This week, Texas Architect Magazine interviewed Michael Van Valkenburgh on being the selected team in Design Waller Creek: A Competition.
When asked to describe a successful element of a similar project to Waller Creek, Michael answered: “Right off the bat, the stone wall in Teardrop Park in New York City comes to mind. It is certainly a first cousin of our proposal for the walls of the Grove, and I think it has become a much-loved part of downtown New York City…we see the vertical configuration of the wall [in the Grove] as a means to create a shaded and perhaps even moist microclimate to provide respite in Austin’s hot summer days.”
As extreme weather becomes more and more common, it is crucial that we have resilient, livable outdoor public-spaces. Michael’s Teardrop Park, like his plan for Waller Creek, features sustainability as a guiding principal. His website writes of Teardrop Park: “treated and recycled graywater from the adjacent LEED Gold-rated Solaire Building and stormwater runoff from the site are captured in an underground storage pipe, supplying all of the park’s irrigation needs.” As Michael notes in his interview with Texas Architect, “responsible water management will always be a priority (for Waller Creek).”
In the last week, Austin has experienced its share of dreary, rainy days, so it can be hard to remember that in just a few months we will be darting from air-conditioned building to air-conditioned building in escape of the intense summer heat. In future years, the Grove and other spots along Waller Creek will hopefully become much-needed sources of outdoor comfort for Austinites. Texas Architect aptly states, “the revitalization of Waller Creek will be a welcome contribution to a community that cherishes green space and water.”